Merchant Impresses with 14:00.86 5K in Liberty Debut
Tristian Merchant performed well during his first race as a Liberty Flame, Saturday evening at the Sharon Colyear-Danville Season Opener. He clocked a 5K time of 14:00.86 which ranks No. 4 in program history and No. 2 all-time in the ASUN, competing at the Boston University Track & Tennis Center.
Racing against many of the nation’s top collegiate and professional runners, Merchant placed eighth in his heat and 81st overall in the event. The sophomore transfer from Northern Arizona finished just three seconds off his lifetime best in the process.
Prior to Saturday, the ASUN all-time 5K record was 14:01.10, set by Lipscomb’s Brent Leber at the 2020 Music City Challenge in Nashville, Tenn. Eastern Kentucky’s Ahmed Kadri (13:47.97) and Merchant both bettered Leber’s mark within the same heat in Boston.
The only Flames who have ever run faster than Merchant in the indoor 5K are All-Americans Sam Chelanga (13:19.79 in 2009), Josh McDougal (13:37.32 in 2007) and Azaria Kirwa (13:55.74 in 2018).
Merchant, who hails from Anchorage, Alaska, is now one of six members of Liberty’s all-time top 10 in the indoor men’s 5K whose best effort as a Flame came at the Boston University Track & Tennis Center.
Three of the top five times in collegiate history were achieved during Saturday’s fastest heat, led by race winner Ky Robinson of Stanford in 13:11.53.
Former Liberty standout Ryan Drew also ran well in Boston on Saturday. He placed fifth in the men’s 3K in 7:52.81, marking a significant improvement upon his previous personal best of 8:07.53.
After an extended break from competition, Liberty will return to action at the Virginia Tech Invitational, Jan. 13 & 14. The meet will take place at Rector Field House in Blacksburg, Va.